AmericanWest Bank in Spokane, Wash., is moving into the California market with a deal to buy another bank from ailing Capitol Bancorp Ltd.

The $1.6 billion-asset company AmericanWest, which itself on was on the verge of failing last year, announced Thursday that an affiliated company is acquiring Sunrise Bank in San Diego for $18.5 million, or $4.51 per share. The deal is expected to close in the third quarter, at which point the $292 million-asset Sunrise and its four branches would be merged into AmericanWest.

AmericanWest, which has 58 branches in Washington, Idaho and Utah, was struggling to survive last year until an investment group, SKBH Holdings Inc., acquired it and infused it with $185 million of fresh capital. In a news release, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Scott A. Kisting said that he and several members of his management team have spent a good part of their careers in California and had been eyeing expansion there.

"We recognize California's strong growth potential, which is why expanding into the state was always a strong possibility if the right opportunity presented itself," Kisting said.

Sunrise is the second bank AmericanWest announced that it would buy from Capitol, a multi-bank holding company that has been aggressively selling off or consolidating its bank subsidiaries in an effort to raise and preserve capital. On May 26, AmericanWest announced that it would buy Capitol's Seattle-based bank, the $146 million-asset Bank of the Northwest, for $17 million in cash. That sale is also expected to close in the third quarter.


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